Friday, September 2, 2011

Recycling Fear

When I got up this morning, I couldn’t find my notebook. The current one—the one I’ve been writing in for the past week or so—the one with the two drafts of today's post that I thought I’d touch up and post first thing.

It wasn’t in either of its two usual spots—the desk or the computer table—so I started a more intensive search. Did I bring it downstairs? Leave it next to the bed? Forget it on the porch?

What if someone else found it? What if I couldn’t recreate the post I’d planned? What if that notebook contained the best words I’d ever written, a brilliant masterpiece that would never see daylight, let alone publication, if I couldn’t find it?


I took the dog out and watered the poor droopy plants in the yard. Nobody stole the notebook, I told myself. My husband has never bothered my stuff, and our sons are both back in college. It had to be somewhere I’d left it.

Of course, I found it almost in plain sight. Then I counted 17 more spiral notebooks in the room and another 19 in a box in the closet.

What am I saving them for? I keep thinking someday I’ll go back and reread them to find the nuggets of inspiration. But I did that once, and it only discouraged me.

My notebooks are not only writing journals, they’re also Morning Pages. I don’t just write stories and poems in them. I try out writing exercises, I make lists, and I do a lot of agonizing. If anyone else ever read them, they’d think of me as a ranting, raving worrywart.

Now those notebooks are weighing me down, holding me back. Once, long ago, I recycled 35 of them, and it's time to do that again. I need to clear some empty space, not hang another albatross around my neck. Besides, any truly good idea will come back to me, right?

I hope so.

JoAnn Early Macken


  1. I have to tell you I recently let go of many, many files and notebooks. I had been hanging on to them for years. Possibly decades. I realized that I was hanging on to them for fear of forgetting. I assure I had no idea what was there but if I hung on to them then I wouldn't forget whatever might be there. Yes, I know that sentence is as bad as the rationale behind the hanging on to everything. Anyway, I let it go. A friend sat with me while I did it. I held on to a few things. Put them in a more reachable place but most of it...gone. I do feel lighter. Instead of walking in tight little cluttered corridors in my brain, I had room to turn up the music and dance. Ahhhh...

  2. Thanks, Lindsey! I'm tossing notebooks into the recycling bag & looking forward to that feeling of lightness!


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